A new ‘Narrabri Dialogue’ on coal seam gas proposed by the NSW government and voted on by Narrabri Council today is attracting criticism from the very communities it’s supposed to engage, with calls for the proposal to be withdrawn for genuine consultation to take place.
Community members from Gloucester to Narrabri are questioning the legitimacy of a ‘dialogue’ committee, when key legal and planning questions about controversial coal seam gas projects in both places remain unanswered by the Minister.
"It is not good enough for Santos and the Government to meet privately and come up with what they think is community consultation on coal seam gas,” said Narrabri resident Hugh Barrett.
"The ‘Narrabri Dialogue’ process is being hurriedly pushed onto us with no consultation. It has failed at the first step. I wasn't even aware that my name is proposed for the committee until I read it in Council’s business papers yesterday.
"The NSW Government, Narrabri Council and Santos needs to go back to the drawing board and start actually talking to the community if they’re serious about genuine consultation.
"The committee as proposed in the business papers is so weighted towards the proponent as to be totally unrepresentative. I am requesting that the Narrabri Dialogue recommendation from the General Manager is withdrawn until at least such time as all parties have the opportunity to discuss it,” he said.
The NSW Government imposed ‘dialogue’ is also being trialled at Gloucester where fracking is planned by AGL, but concerned community members are calling the process a ‘furphy.’
"In Gloucester, we questioned the purpose and legitimacy of setting up a dialogue committee with the private gas company that simply wants to get their foot in the door," said Gloucester resident Julie Lyford.
"We decided not to join the 'Gloucester Dialogue' when it was clear it had no legal role and instead appeared to have been set up to smooth the way for AGL to frack in our valley. We have serious legal and planning questions in relation to coal seam gas fracking in Gloucester that remain unanswered and we want to hear those answers directly from Minister Roberts, not through a sham committee," she said.
Narrabri Council meets at 1pm and the proposed ‘Narrabri dialogue’ is on the agenda. The business papers of today’s meeting are available here.